Simple Bruschetta

After running around yesterday for a doctor’s appointment across town, driving back to pick up my husband from work, and hitting the gym, I was hungry and had no interest in spending a lot of time cooking dinner.  I had some tomatoes and onions sitting around that had seen better days, so I decided to make a simple bruschetta to eat alongside some prepared soup and frozen veggies.  I didn’t use a fancy baguette or anything, just simple slices of gluten-free bread (Rudi’s whole grain) that I had sitting in the freezer.  The fresh basil made this awesome!

Simple Bruschetta

Ingredients (for 2 servings):
2 pieces gluten-free bread
1 tomato, diced with seeds removed
1/2 onion, diced
4-5 fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
garlic powder
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Directions:
1.  Broil bread until just browned.
2.  Add diced tomatoes and onion, then drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic powder, add mozzarella cheese, and chopped basil leaves (in that order).
3.  Broil on middle rack for about 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted.
4.  Serve immediately.

We had this with some creamy tomato soup and green beans.  The entire meal took less than 15 minutes to prepare and tasted great!

Happy eating!

-c

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Deep Dish Veggie Pot Pie (with Gluten-Free Crust)

I am a huge fan of one-dish meals.  Especially one-dish meals that are incredibly satisfying.  I made my first veggie pot pie a long time ago using pre-made pie crusts.  I would get the two-pack of crusts in foil pie pans and use one as the base and, for the top, I would thaw out the other crust, remove the dough from the foil pan, and reshape to lay on top.  I finally decided it was time to bring back an old favorite and wanted to try my hand at making a homemade gluten-free pie crust.   I needed a recipe, as I am nowhere near knowledgeable enough about baking to come up with my own recipe!  I found this relatively-simple recipe and I actually had most of the ingredients.  I made several modifications, but only ones that I felt somewhat confident about trying!  I also doubled the recipe when I noticed I only had a giant 3-inch deep, 10-inch diameter round pan!  After realizing how large of a pot pie this would make, I searched for the world’s largest pot pie and, unfortunately, if I plan to beat that, I’m going to need a MUCH larger pan!  The record, set in 1995, was a 22,100-pound pot pie made by Kentucky Fried Chicken!  The pot pie was 12 feet in diameter and 4 feet deep!

Deep Dish Veggie Pot Pie (serves 6)

Ingredients for crust:
1 ½ cups brown rice flour
½ cup cornstarch
4 Tablespoons tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
12 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks*
1 egg
2 teaspoons lemon juice

*Yes, that is a LOT of butter.  Figuratively speaking, a little part of me died while preparing the pot pie.  Literally speaking, a little part of me died while eating the pot pie.  It’s fine.

Ingredients for filling:
24 ounces veggies of your choice (I used a frozen mix of carrots, potatoes, corn, green beans, lima beans, okra, celery, and onion)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 ½ Tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼-½ cup cornstarch

Directions:

Make pie crust.
1.  Add brown rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, salt, and garlic powder to a giant bowl.
2.  Add chunks of cold butter and beat on low until butter gets mixed and mixture becomes crumbly.
3.  Add egg and lemon juice.  Beat on low.  At this point the dough should be fairly dry but still stick together and be malleable.

Like Play-doh!

4.  Roll on a floured piece of parchment paper until approximately the size of the pan (including walls).
5.  Flip parchment paper to release dough into baking pan (mine basically fell apart so I used my hands to press the dough against the sides of the pan).  Poke holes in dough with a fork.

Ready to bake!

6.  Bake at 375°F for about 20 minutes (until crust starts to lightly brown and gets less soft). While this is baking, prepare filling.

Prepare filling.
1.  Add broth, veggies, nutritional yeast, and spices to a large pot over medium heat.  Keep on heat until warm throughout.  Add cornstarch until broth thickens (I added a little at a time while stirring and used atleast 1/4 cup).
2.  Pour contents into pre-baked crust.  Flatten remaining crust dough as done previously and lay over top of pie, trying your best to cover the entire thing.

At this point, I realized just how much food I was actually making!

3.  Bake at 375°F for about 35-45 minutes (until top crust is brown).

Hot out of the oven!

The crust had a nice consistency and melted in my mouth (as it should with 12 Tablespoons of butter).  The taste was very mild (in a good way), making it versatile for any type of pie crust I would ever need.  I will definitely keep this recipe as my go-to for pie crusts in the future.  I’m going to be eating this pot pie as leftovers for awhile!

Happy eating!

-c

Ghiradelli Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownies

I was dreading my first birthday as a diagnosed celiac.  I had no fancy dinner to look forward to, no cake to look forward to, and was, for the most part, just feeling sorry for myself.  I woke up that Saturday morning and did my usual thing–ran a bunch of errands and went to work for a bit.  On my arrival home, I did not expect what I saw in the kitchen.  My husband was hunched over the food processor with a huge mess surrounding him, making homemade, gluten-free, Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownies–for me.  I’ll admit, I was not expecting this from a gluten-free brownie, but they were THE BEST brownies I have ever eaten.

We still make these brownies whenever we need a treat for ourselves or friends.  You would never guess that these are gluten-free.  They are gooey, rich, and amazing!

Ghiradelli Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownies (original source)

*We follow the recipe exactly and have found that in both our current oven and our previous oven, the brownies take closer to 40 minutes to bake (in a 8-inch round cake pan).

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1 cup Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet chocolate chips
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup toasted walnut pieces

Directions:
1. Process raw almonds until they become a fine powder.  Add brown rice flour and pulse to mix.
2. In a medium/large pot (use a bigger pot than you think you need, because you will be adding everything else and mixing in this pot), add chocolate chips, butter, and salt over low heat and stir until melted.
3. Once chocolate is melted, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
4. Add sugar and vanilla and stir.
5. Add 1 egg at a time while stirring.
6. Add almond/rice flour blend and briskly stir (about 40 strokes).

The baker (a.k.a. my husband) at work.

7. Add in toasted walnuts and stir to mix evenly into batter.
8. Pour into a buttered pan (will fit perfectly in a 8-inch round cake pan).
9. Bake uncovered at 325°F for about 35-45 minutes (until knife or toothpick comes out clean).

Perfect!

10. Immediately freeze the leftovers or you will consume the entire pan.

 

This is exactly what I needed after a busy weekend!  Served with vanilla ice cream for maximum satisfaction!

Just what the doctor ordered! (No, not really–that is a lie.)

Happy eating!

-c

Artichoke and Sweet Potato Au Gratin

I was looking for new recipe inspirations and I came across this artichoke and sweet potato au gratin.  A new way to celebrate my love for sweet potatoes!  I really liked the idea of making a gravy with vegetable stock and processed beans, instead of the usual vegetable stock and flour/starch.  I made only slight modifications to the original recipe and I am sharing the recipe as I made it (see here for the original).

Artichoke and Sweet Potato Au Gratin (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

Ingredients:
2 medium/large sweet potatoes (about 1 pound after peeling and cutting off ends)
2 tomatoes, diced
15 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, chopped
1 (15.5 ounce) can of cannellini beans
½ cup vegetable stock
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:
1.  Thaw the artichoke hearts and coarsely chop.
2.  In a bowl, add chopped artichokes, 2 diced tomatoes, half a bunch of chopped scallions, ½ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.  Set aside.

Yum! Haven’t had artichokes for a long time!

3.  Drain and rinse beans and add to food processor.
4.  To make the gravy, process with vegetable broth, ¼ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt until smooth.
5.  Peel 2 raw sweet potatoes and slice into 1/8” thick discs.
6.  Spoon about ¼ of the gravy into the bottom of a baked dish to cover surface.
7.  Lay a single layer of potato discs, then scoop vegetable mixture on top of potatoes.
8.  Add more gravy and repeat layers (I made 3 total layers).
9.  Sprinkle remaining ¼ teaspoon oregano on top.
10.  Bake covered at 375°F for 45 minutes.

Hot out of the oven.

11.  Garnish with chopped scallions and serve.

I  intended to add chopped walnuts to the top as the original recipe  called for but, in the excitement of trying a new recipe, I completely forgot!  I guess that makes it not really “au gratin”, but that’s okay.  This dish was really different.  I liked it okay, but I thought it was a little heavy on the oregano (and I used less than what the original called for) and could have used a bit more flavor.  I will probably try this again at some point with some modifications because, overall, it was a really interesting dish that has potential to be even better.

I have plans to do some more cooking today, in addition to making a batch of soap (hopefully my first batch to sell), and going for a run outside.   Enjoy your Sunday!

Happy eating!

-c

A Valuable Lesson

I learned a valuable lesson today.

Don’t run 1.5 miles to the gym (and, therefore, be forced to run 1.5 miles home) for an exercise class if you don’t know all the details about the class.  I decided to go to a spin class today at noon because I really wanted to check out some of the classes at our new gym.  I also wanted to spend time outdoors though, and since we live close to the gym, I thought it would be foolish to drive there.   I ran there, quickly signed up for the class and went in to what I thought was an hour-long class.  I got there and the girl running the class was REALLY intense and the class was actually a 90-minute endurance class for Lance Armstrong-wannabes.  I actually did pretty well but was going a bit slower than I was supposed to toward the end.  The run home was painful and I was inredibly famished.  I had a quick mug of cereal and some peanut butter, showered, then had some more food.

Post-exercise food: cucumber and bell pepper strips with hummus, fresh watermelon and pineapple, and a glass of seltzer water with frozen strawberries as ice cubes!

I made hummus this morning and it is probably one of my best batches so far.  I think it was the veggie broth that made it better.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Ingredients:
1 bulb of garlic
1 (15.5 oz.) can of chickpeas
4 Tablespoons vegetable broth
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
dash of salt

Directions:
1. Roast the bulb of garlic.  Once soft, remove cloves and process.
2. Drain and rinse chickpeas, and add to processor with garlic.
3. Add olive oil and vegetable broth and process until smooth.
4. Add spices.  Process to incorporate the spices.
5. Store in a closed container in the refrigerator.

I really want to spend more time outside today (maybe go for a walk?) but I have a feeling that I’m not going to get up off the couch anytime soon.  In fact, my eyes are starting to glaze over.  I think it’s nap time!

 

Happy eating!

-c

Sweet potatoes (with peanut butter) rock!

One of my favorite foods is the sweet potato.  Sweet potatoes are incredibly nutritious, are very easy to prepare, and taste amazing.  I eat several per week.

Some of my favorite ways to enjoy sweet potatoes are:

1.  Microwaved with peanut butter on top (raisins are good too!)—This makes a simple lunch, and the extra calories from the peanut butter make it a bit more substantial (and tasty).

One of the easiest and tastiest lunches!

2.  Sweet potato fries—like French fries, but a million times better.

3.  Diced sweet potatoes—Like the fries, but a different shape.  Last time I made fries, I almost lost a digit.  I dice them these days because I find it easier.

Tossed with olive oil, garlic powder, chili powder, and black pepper. Baked at 350°F for about 30 minutes.

4.  Mashed sweet potatoes—A holiday favorite.  Or you could add a ton of brown sugar and marshmallows to make a casserole, but I think they are sweet enough as is.

5.  Sweet potato soup—warm, sweet, and savory!

6.  Sweet potato pie—It’s pie.  With sweet potatoes.  No explanation needed.

If you haven’t tried a baked (or microwaved) sweet potato with peanut butter, get on it!  You will thank me!

How do you eat your sweet potatoes?

Happy eating!

-c

Coconut Oil-Fried Eggplant

There is such a stigma associated with fried food–from the giant buckets of fried chicken found at fast food joints, to fried butter at the Texas State Fair (yes, I have tried it), to Super Size french fries that keep getting larger.  I grew up eating fried food.  Not frequently, but often enough that I still have fond memories of biting into my grandma’s fried okra and having the grease ooze out, occasionally dripping down my chin.  I’m also pretty sure we ate fried bologna as kids (this is probably why I became vegetarian).  I have not had fried food in a really long time, due to my not being able to have traditional flour and not enjoying giant hunks of meat.

Tonight, however, I had a grand idea.  I had about half of an eggplant I needed to get rid of and thought the perfect solution would be to slice it and fry it.  This was a “we’ll try it and, if it fails, we’ll find something else to eat” kind of meal.  Luckily, it turned out great!

Coconut Oil-Fried Eggplant

Ingredients (for 2):
About half a peeled eggplant, sliced into discs about 1/4″ thick.
Coconut oil (maybe 1/4 cup?)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil

Directions:
1. Melt coconut oil by putting jar in a pot with water over medium heat.
2. Peel and slice eggplant.
3. Beat egg in a bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, add flour, garlic powder, oregano, and basil.  Stir to mix.
5. In a large frying pan, add melted coconut oil to cover bottom of pan.  Turn heat to medium/high (if it starts smoking and smelling, turn down the heat a bit).
6. Dip eggplant slices in egg.  Drain off excess. Dip in flour/spice mix to coat.  Place in oiled pan.
7. Let oil bubble until bottom of eggplant is browned.  Flip and cook until brown on both sides.  Add more coconut oil to the pan whenever it starts getting dry.

8. Drain off excess coconut oil from the cooked eggplant slices on to a paper towel.
9. Serve immediately.

This is much better than fried bologna!

Please tell me I wasn’t the only kid who ate fried bologna.  I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but it was probably my favorite meal from the early ’90s.

 

Happy eating!

-c

Indian-Inspired Sauce with Tofu

After an awesome weekend and a six-hour drive today, it is good to be back in Richmond!  I was incredibly tired this morning after a late night bowling with the parents.

Four-bagger!!!

Yes, that is me with the 207 bowling score!  Unfortunately, I am a one-hit wonder with my bowling skills, so the other three games didn’t go nearly as well!  We got home late this afternoon, unpacked (kind of), and went grocery shopping.  I was really looking forward to cooking something delicious for dinner and decided to try my hand at an Indian dish.  I have always loved most ethnic cuisines.  I particularly love all of the fresh vegetables and interesting flavors that are used in Indian dishes.  There was this amazing Indian restaurant we used to visit near Dallas that a coworker recommended to me as the real deal.  If you’re ever in the DFW area,  check out Mayuri.  It will blow your mind!  I’ve always wanted to learn to cook Indian food, but the amount of spices used in most dishes intimidates me.  For this dish, I used a spice blend found in the ethnic section of Kroger instead of buying a bunch of different spices that I may never use again.

Indian-Inspired Sauce with Tofu

Ingredients:
Olive oil (to saute vegetables and coat tofu baking pan)
1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
About 1 cup gluten-free vegetable stock (no salt added)
1 chopped zucchini
About half a chopped onion
About half a chopped bell pepper
2.5 teaspoons spice mix (Sun Brand Madras Curry Powder*)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 block extra firm tofu

*This spice mix contains coriander seeds, turmeric, chillies, salt, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black pepper, garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cinnamon, cloves, anise, and mustard.  I added extra of some of those because I felt like it needed a bit more.

Directions:
1. Saute onions, bell pepper, and zucchini in a small amount of olive oil.
2. Add diced tomatoes and vegetable stock and keep heat on low/medium.
3. Add sugar and spices and turn heat to low.  Let simmer on low while tofu is baking.
4. Press liquid out of tofu and cut into cubes or strips.
5. Bake at 375°F for about 15 minutes, flip, and then bake for another 15-20 minutes (I baked mine on aluminum foil that I brushed with olive oil).
6. Once tofu is slightly crispy on the outside but still soft on the inside, remove from oven and add to sauce.
7. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes on low heat.
8. Scoop warm sauce with tofu on top of rice (or your favorite grain) and enjoy!

A post-vacation feast!

We made some plain brown rice in our rice cooker and added the sauce on top!  This was really good but I think I can add more spices and make it even better next time!  I can see this meal becoming a regular in our kitchen!

Happy eating!

-c

Vegan and Gluten-Free Baked Beans

The first part of this past weekend kind of felt like a bust.  I did a ton of work, got my oil changed finally(!!!), and even managed to sleep in (if you consider waking up at 7:30 sleeping in), but it just did not feel incredibly relaxing.  My husband said he felt the same way and we came to the conclusion that it was because we had not spent any time outside.  It rained all day on Saturday, and Sunday started out pretty gross too.  The weather finally cleared up Sunday afternoon and we got outside as quickly as we could so the weekend could redeem itself.

Duck friend says hello (actually, I think she just wanted food)!

After a nice walk outside, we decided that dinner on the patio would be a great way to finish off the weekend.  One of my favorite picnic-style foods is baked beans.  So I decided to whip up a batch of my homemade, vegan baked beans (gluten-free too, of course)!  These are pretty easy to make and are not as ridiculously sweet as the canned ones.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Baked Beans

Ingredients:
2 cups dry navy beans
2 cups gluten-free vegetable stock (unsalted)
¾ large yellow onion (diced)
¼ cup tomato paste
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1.5 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
A bit of olive oil for sauteing onion and garlic

Directions:
1.  Saute onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil.
2.  Add vegetable stock, then tomato paste, brown sugar, maple syrup, and spices.
3.  Let sit on low heat while beans are cooking.
4.  Bring beans to a boil, then simmer until soft.  Once they are cooked, drain off water, and pour beans into sauce.  Stir.
5.  Transfer to a baking dish and bake uncovered at 350°F for at least half an hour (until bubbly).

A balcony picnic is better than no picnic!

Now I just need to get a picnic basket and blanket and actually go on a real picnic!

What’s your favorite picnic food?

Happy eating!

-c

Three-Ingredient Queso

Earlier last week, my husband and I made a deal with ourselves.  If we worked out hard and ate well for the week, we would have chips, queso, and margaritas over the weekend.  Well–we held ourselves accountable for the majority of the week.  Then Friday came.  I just did not feel like cooking anything for dinner.  So we ate this…

The pesto-flavored one is even better!

This brand of gluten-free pizzas is the best I have found!*  The crust is flaky and rich and the ingredient list is short.  This company is a dedicated 100%  gluten-free facility and they also do not use tree nuts or peanuts.

So much for our deal (It would have been fine if we each hadn’t eaten half of the pizza in one sitting), but we still made queso and margaritas last night.  It’s the weekend after all!

This is the easiest queso ever and it has been a hit every time we have made it for other people!

Three-Ingredient Queso

Philadelphia (unflavored) cream cheese and Kraft Natural cheese are both gluten-free!

Ingredients (for 2 very hefty portions):
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
About 3 Tablespoons diced tomatoes with green chiles
About 1 Tablespoon juice from the tomato/chile can

Directions:
1.  Cut the cheddar cheese into cubes and heat with the cream cheese in a pot over low/medium heat.  Stir continuously so the cheese does not burn.  It will take some muscle power to break up and melt the cheddar.

Work it!

2.  Once the cheese is melted, immediately turn heat down to low, and add tomatoes/chiles and juice.  Stir.
3.  Eat immediately or pour into a warm crockpot (low setting) to keep from solidifying over longer periods of time.

It took serious willpower to take pics before consuming this stuff!

We also made frozen strawberry margaritas!  The recipe was very similar to the last margaritas I made except for making them frozen  and adding in about 8-10 strawberries.

Immediately after taking this picture, I almost dropped the entire plate on the floor!

Happy eating!

-c

*I have never been approached about reviewing products or brands.  I just want to share my opinion on certain things that I find delightful because it is hard to come by with gluten-free products.

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